Usually, orchids are potted in bark, moss, and other components but not soil such as our other house plants. Watering improperly causes more orchid death than any other reason.
As orchids are different from the other typical house plants, they need to be watered differently as well. But, what kind of water should we use for orchids? How should we water them and how often? The answer is: whenever the orchid plant needs it.
But how do we know when it needs it, and what kind of water and nutrient needs our orchid plants?
Here you will find the benefits and drawbacks of using different kinds of water and I will talk about the watering process as well.
Rainwater would be the best choice for orchids because it collects from the air many substances such as pollen, dust, and other organic matters. Rainwater is the richest water in terms of nourishment of the orchid plant.
However, rainwater also can end up some harmful chemicals from the atmosphere, from different kinds of fires, for example, and this can be harmful to our orchids.
Also, if the rainwater is collected, then left to evaporate, can increase the concentration of the chemicals in the water. So, if you live in an area, such as an industrial area, where the air is not so clean, rainwater might not be the best choice for you.
Also, rainwater doesn’t need any preparation just to be allowed to reach the room/ambient temperature where you keep your orchid plants. Too cold or too hot water could harm the plant.
As rainwater might not be available all year round, it is good to know, that there are other types of water that can be used for our orchids.
2. Tap Water
In contrast to rainwater, tap water is more accessible and easier to source, however, it can contain a harmful amount of chlorine. Tap water quality is different from one place to another and its quality is not consistent throughout the year.
Tap water contains many biological molecules such as bacteria, hormones; inorganic elements like heavy metals also contain calcium, salts, magnesium carbonates, and chlorines.
To make it safe for human consumption, it is added chlorine and chloramine. Usually, this is still safe for the orchids, as long as the concentration of the chlorine doesn’t exceed the standards.
Luckily, the orchid plants are adaptable plants, which can adapt to their environment with time, but at certain times of the year, water companies are increasing the amount of chlorine and chloramine also they add other chemicals as well to clean the pipes, and control bacteria and algae development. These chemicals may affect your orchids.
So, if you prefer to use tap water for your plants, make sure you are not using too hot or too cold water, and the best is to leave it overnight, so the temperature will be perfect and the amount of the chemicals will be reduced because of evaporation, or you can filter it through activated carbon which will remove the heavy metals from your tap water.
3. Distilled Water
Distilled water can be bought in many shops, and it is purified through heating and evaporating until it is effectively pure water.
Distilled water can be an expensive choice, especially if you have many orchids, but the good news is that you can produce it yourself at home. After buying the purifying unit (reverse osmosis unit), you can produce as much purified water as you want.
This unit helps to filter the water through a membrane which stops the large salt molecules pass and lets the small water molecules through.
This “home-made” purified water and the distilled water is one of the best choices for your orchid plants, however, because of the lack of nutrients, you should fertilize them regularly to make sure they get all the needed nutrients to grow healthy and beautiful.
4. Spring, Wellwater
Springwater or well water might not be the best choice for your orchids. But this depends on the area where you live. Wellwater can contain too many salts, therefore salt deposits can build up in the potting medium. This type of water can have high alkalinity as well, therefore, calcium and magnesium will not be available for your orchid.
If you want to use well water/spring water, make sure that the content in mineral salts is below 120 PPM, and you should also measure the PH range of the water.
How to Water Your Orchids?
Now that you know which water you want to use for your orchids, another question arises: how and when should you water your orchids? So here we go, there is a quick guide to help you out.
When to Water You Orchid?
First, I am going to talk about when to water the orchids. This is not rocket science, but there are a few factors you should consider, such as the room temperature where the plant lives, how much light it has, what types is your orchid, also, the potting medium of your orchid is very important.
Usually, watering once a week should be fine, but always check the potting medium. If the bark still has moisture, then doesn’t need watering yet, but if it is dry, then you can water the plant. However, if your house is warm or the air is low in humidity, watering might be needed more often.
Remember, always water your orchids with room temperature water, not cold and not warm or hot.
Another important thing about watering: never water the orchids at night time. Always water them in the morning or early afternoon, so the water excess will have time to evaporate until it gets dark. Leaving the plant sitting in water overnight could cause rotting or can encourage fungal growth.
How to Water Orchids Grown in Bark?
One of the best ways of watering an orchid grown in the bark is to bathe the pot into the water and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Then take the pot out of the water and let the excess water drain out for few minutes, then you can put your plant back to its usual place.
Be careful not to let the water stay inside the place where the leaves meet the stems because that can lead to rotting. If you see that the water splashed there, you can soak it out with a cotton pad or a paper towel.
How to Water Orchids Grown in Sphagnum Moss?
Sphagnum Moss holds the moisture for longer than bark, so even when it feels dry, it can still have some moisture inside of the pot.
Orchids are grown in moss also can be watered as the ones which are grown in the bark. However, these can be watered from the top as well, like the other typical house plants. If you choose to water your orchid from the top, you should be careful not to overwater it.
Especially if the plant’s pot is plastic or glass. These pots are retaining water, and too much water can kill your orchids. Too much water can lead to rotten roots, because they need airflow, so too much water could “drown” them.
Many people think that misting should be part of their orchid care routine, but it shouldn’t. Misting is about raising the humidity.
Misting can do more harm than good, especially when the plant is in bloom. The flower will last for a shorter period of time if the water/mist is touching it.
So, if you need more humidity for your orchid plants, you can place the pots on top of a layer of rocks which are in water. The water should not touch the bottom of the pot, it just needs to evaporate so it can humidify the plant.
Growing healthy and beautiful orchids in your home is not a big deal. But there are few things that you have to keep in mind. One of these few things is watering. This is an important factor in keeping the plants healthy.
The healthiness of the plant will depend on the type of water you are using to water it. The purest the water is, the best for your plants will be. However, if the water is as pure as a distilled water, make sure you fertilize your plants, otherwise it will not get enough nutrients.
The healthiness and happiness of the plant depends on HOW you are watering it as well. An orchid plant is more likely to survive for longer if it is underwatered, rather than overwatered. Too much water can easily kill the plant, because it will cause rotting of the roots or the stems.
How often watering is needed depends on the medium of the plant and its environment, such as heat, humidity, sunlight and the type of the orchid plant.
If you pay attention to the details and follow these simple rules, you will have wonderful orchids which will make your home even cozier.